There’s an old saying, “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” Well, 2020 has certainly brought a great deal of adversity, and it’s revealed the conditions for America’s perfect storm. None of these conditions are new. Each issue has been brewing on its own for some time. But adversity has revealed the tremendous risk of not dealing with these issues before they were thrown together in a pandemic. While the list of concerns is long, there are three I want to specifically address.
An Unhealthy Population
For most of us, the 2020 chaos was set into motion when the coronavirus pandemic began spreading rapidly in America. A physician friend recently told me that the U.S. is fertile ground for COVID-19 because so many in our population are unhealthy. It’s no secret that too many Americans are obese; over forty percent. Obesity related conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and type-two diabetes make people more susceptible to respiratory problems in general. COVID-19 raised the stakes even higher, putting obese people at greater risk of not only contracting the virus, but dying from it – regardless of their age.
Would America’s pandemic story have been different if we as citizens were healthier? We’ll never know. What we do know is that the physical and economic effects of this virus have definitely provided fuel for chaos. The fact that so many Americans are living an unhealthy lifestyle is undeniable, yet difficult to deal with as a whole. Hopefully we will each consider the things that put our individual health at risk. As believers, we need to develop habits that allow us to serve the Lord to the best of our abilities.
An Unhealthy Political Environment
Political division isn’t new to our nation. There was a time, however, when Americans sought to elect honorable people with strong moral values. Public office was synonymous with public service instead of personal power and prosperity. The government’s job was to make our nation strong and prosperous, not to control our lives or be the solution to all of our problems. Statesmen debated policy rather than attacked personality. Corruption and falsehood were exceptions – not the rule.
By contrast, our current political culture seems to thrive on division. Working across the aisle has been replaced with political dysfunction. We’re so divided that everything becomes political. Opposing parties blame each other for mishandling the virus, mismanagement of local government, and civil unrest. Even whether or not you wear a mask is often seen as a political statement. COVID-19 is definitely a physical threat but it pales in comparison to the effects of our unhealthy political environment. If something doesn’t change, then the cultural chaos will grow deeper and deadlier with each passing day.
An Unhealthy Church
In a time when our nation needs to hear and see the Gospel the most, the American Church is at its weakest. It’s not that we’re abandoning religion but turning away from biblical truth. In short – it’s apostasy. Even many Southern Baptist churches are opting for a social gospel. They desire to help the hungry and the needy without addressing personal holiness, forgiveness, and lawlessness. Many pulpits are silent regarding the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage. They’re reaching for relevance by collaborating with secular culture rather than encouraging members to live counterculture.
Jesus told His followers to serve the poor, to defend the innocent, and to stand against injustice. However, the Jesus way calls for repentance, not rioting. What distinguishes Christians from the rest of the world is caring for others in such a way that a righteous and holy God gets the glory. The chaos of our day is exposing just how unhealthy the Church actually is.
The character of our country isn’t being built, it’s being revealed. America’s perfect storm is uncovering a lot of pain, panic, greed, and pride. My great hope is that Jesus is coming soon. I truly believe Gabriel is licking his lips in preparation to blow the horn. Until then, Christians need to work for peaceful resolutions to the issues in our communities. But we need to remember that Jesus came to rescue us from this world. Only He can calm the storm and put an end to all the chaos.